Summer in Napa - By Marina Adair Page 0,1

Shit. Shit!

It was locked. In her grandmother’s mission to protect Lexi’s teenage virtue, Pricilla had installed safety measures: a doorknob that was extremely loud to open, with a lock that was always engaged.

Lexi patted down the sides of her shorts, as though expecting to find magical pockets containing a set of apartment keys. Sadly, she found neither.

“Come here, boy,” a distinctly male, and distinctly familiar, voice called out. Followed by a playful bark that sounded much closer.

Lexi froze, and last night’s pastry dinner declared war on her stomach.

“That’s it, come on. Good boy.” Claws clicked excitedly on the pavement. A dog tore around the corner. He was some kind of mastiff-Thoroughbred mix with paws the size of a polar bear’s and covered head to tail in mud. And he was headed directly toward her. “Damn it, Wingman, I said come!”

This could not be happening.

Fear had her feet moving—and fast. Lexi would rather explain to her grandmother that she had snuck into the apartment than face him. She shot around the corner of the building and, deciding that running didn’t make her a coward, made a beeline down the alley next to the bakery, hoping to slip in the delivery door without being noticed.

She got to the corner of Main Street and stopped, her stomach plummeting to her toes.

The one-lane road was backed up with a line of cars that went past the Paws and Claws Day Spa, made its way beyond Bottles and Bottles—the local pharmacy and wine retailer—and continued toward the highway and the bright-green sign that read:




The sidewalks were even worse. The brick-and-awning storefronts and lamp-lined streets were filled with tourists, tourists, and more tourists, who were admiring the rows of old wine barrels filled with seasonal flowers and taking in the large banner advertising the St. Helena Summer Wine Showdown. Wine-tasting season was in full swing, and people were out in masses, which meant that Pricilla’s Patisserie would be overflowing with locals, weekend warriors, and Sunday shoppers.

The second she walked into the bakery, she would run into a dozen people she knew, all with a dozen inappropriate questions that would lead to a dozen or more rumors about how Lexi had come crawling home—a divorced failure.

A gentle breeze blew past her, carrying with it the smell of freshly baked choux pastry. Lexi followed the scent and found that both of the windows her grandmother used to ventilate the rear kitchen were opened a crack.

She pried the first window open, her body turning on adolescent autopilot as she hoisted herself through. She got that same old high school thrill until she realized she didn’t have the same old high school hips and found herself ass up, wedged between the window casing.

“Oh God, no.” Lexi rocked, trying to gain enough momentum to tumble to the other side of the windowsill. “Please, no.”

Seconds ticked by, and sweat beaded on her forehead. She clawed at the sill and kicked at the planter box she stood on, mentally willing her hips back to prom night—but she didn’t move, or lose, an inch. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t squeeze herself through the window.

Refusing to give up, she looked around the kitchen, hoping to find something, anything that might help. But nothing useful was in reach—except for a fresh tray of éclairs, which sat just to her right.

Her body sank, dangling like raw dough over the windowsill. It was no use. She was stuck. Trying to move forward while dodging your past was clearly impossible. So she did what any reasonable woman would do under the circumstances: she reached across the table, plucked a petit-éclair from the tray, and shoved the entire thing in her mouth, making sure to lick her fingers clean in the process.

She was reaching for her second pastry when something cold and wet poked her in the butt. She yelped. There was a bark, a sniff, and the wet again.

“Shoo,” Lexi hissed, waving her free hand even though the dog couldn’t see. “Go away.”

“He was just saying good morning.”

Lexi froze, considering her options. When she realized she had none, she snapped, “Well, you should teach him some manners.”

“Says the woman mooning half of St. Helena,” the silky smooth and way-too-amused voice behind her said, as though she wasn’t aware that her fanny was flapping in the wind. “Plus, as far as Wingman is concerned, you were offering him up a doggie high five.”

Closing her eyes, Copyright 2016 - 2024